Friday, November 30, 2012

Livescribe Pilot On-site Training

This Thursday, only two weeks after joining the Livescribe Sky pen pilot program, we had 50 SKY pens in the building along with Janet Sankar, an education specialist from Livescribe.  Janet worked with me to help the kids set up their pens.  We learned as we went along, our second class of kids was much smoother than the first.  What made the big difference? Janet preloaded the spreadsheet with the kids names.
Video streaming by Ustream We are tracking the pen serial number, name, and user ID.  We have also engraved ID numbers into the back of each pen.  So far only one of the 50 pens has any technical issues, shipped with a blown speaker.
We trained the kids in the computer lab.  I was able to work on capturing the sessions with the camera.  I had to create a helper aid because the day after Janet leftI still had 1/3 of the freshmen to run through the pen setup.
IO hosted a parent info night and Janet was great with explaining to the parents how the pen works and I got to share some of the goals of our program.  You can watch most of the program here.

Video streaming by Ustream

Unconference Day 2

The session on life's "Secret Curriculum"
Our campus climate proJect seems to reach into every corner of student and campus life.  This means that there are always a number of interventions going on.  The other day Michelle turned to me and said "Got through the whole day without a student crying with me, feels good.

Sharing about social media
This week we had our second Campus unconference. as the student came into the MPR I heard several of the ask, "Is this another unconference?" Tone is everything and I would call the tone of this question hopeful.The topics for the second unconference included:

  • Finding our purpose
  • Israel 
  • What do we do when we mess up 
  • Bullying 
  • Gossip 
  • Social Media, How to
  • The Secret Curriculum
  • Stress Management

At the end of the first session we had groups return to the MPR and report out to the large group.  This really cut into several of the conversations, so this time we worked for closure in the individual sessions.  We asked the facilitators to push students beyond identifying the problem and move into describing next steps the community can take to respond to the issue.

Some discussion were lively, others were more subdued

Some discussion were very small
A group discussion on  Israel, in the news and our hearts
Each of the facilitators came out of their sessions with some good notes.  These notes are fed back into the ongoing conversation about the campus community.  Next steps move in many directions.  We are working on a health curriculum that will be responsive to the students needs and be respectful of parents wishes.
We love how this conversation is evolving and one of the key factors is keeping the students in the center of the conversation.  The unconference model allows us to shake up the expected flow of information and gives the students a chance to be heard amongst their peers.
Trust them\, recognize them, invite them to learn about our shared space together. Afterall, learning is living.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Self Harm and Social Media

I can feel the voices I hear shifting, even on twitter.  A few weeks ago I found a great person, @ERHSnicewords, on twitter.  HIs user name is "Against Bullying."  Following his tweets I was impressed by the number of positive and supportive messages he sends.    On his site he explains:

ERHS Nice Words started as a Twitter account on August 18, 2012. @ERHSnicewords. Created by me, Tyler McKeever, a student at East Ridge High School looking to impact kids of every age and every background in a positive way! This website and Twitter account are both Anti-Bullying based. They strive to eliminate all the hate and negativity around the country and world. My long term goal is to help as many people as possible change their ways, or stand up to the person of whom they were once afraid. We can reach this goal with enough effort and determination! Once again, Welcome to a place where you fit in. #TylersWarriors 

As far as I know I don't follow any other 16 year olds, but Tyler is doing amazing work and has developed quite a community.

self harm and social media, @learningsliving, @erhsnicewords, bullying

Tyler talks about stopping self harm, helping with depression and eating disorders.  His current initiative #TylersWarriors asks people to write #tylerswarriors on themselves instead of harming themselves.  They are warriors against isolation with Tyler.

Tyler is a powerful model for using Social Media for a social good.

Please note that some of the stories and almost all of the images shared in this project are challenging and deeply discomforting.  That is a good thing.  The stories being shared are discomforting.  I think that anyone working with students needs to have some idea of this often hidden narrative of self harm.  I like Tyler's transformation of self-harm pics into "team support" pics.

I follow @ERHSnicewords even though it means that twitter will remind me, everyday, that everyone carries secrets, pain, and fear.  Tyler is helping the people who find him and he is building a community of love in a world of need.  

If you know of someone who has found a way to use the power of social media for Good, leave some info in the comments.  Got a great idea?  DM @learnignsliving and we will set up a Guest post.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

PATUE TALK, Teachers, Parents, and Ed-tech (ers?)

Tuesday 11/13 was the first session of PATUE TALK, a weekly professional development conference for teachers, parents, and members of the ed tech industry to talk and work together.
PATUE, Palo Alto Technology using Educators, teachers using tech, twitter for teachers
Jack frm Claco Tweeting @ PATUE 
patue, palo alto technology using educators, palo alto twitter using educators, spitting distance from silicon valley, teachers and parents, teachers, parents, parents and edtech, edtech, educational technology, learning online, twitter chat, weekly conference series, professional development for teachers, professional organization for teachersMy goals as the organizer were several.  First, I wanted to get more teachers in my immediate community connected to technology. I have been working on developing best practices in ed tech application and it is visible in the work coming out of my room.  I also want teachers to experience the support and growth I have experienced in my time as a connected teacher.  When I talk about connected teaching I think I always start from the challenges, because that is where most teachers get stuck.  Teachers are not running a start-up and can't embrace the possibility of failure.  So they need to talk with people who have experience with tech tools in order to decide which are truly worth trying.
patue, palo alto technology using educators, palo alto twitter using educators, spitting distance from silicon valley, teachers and parents, teachers, parents, parents and edtech, edtech, educational technology, learning online, twitter chat, weekly conference series, professional development for teachers, professional organization for teachers
Finally I want to build more casual community around education and technology.  To create the connected leaders of the future we have to define, shape, and model what that means.

I want all teachers to be able to find the support and community I enjoy through my PLN.  Towards that end I am trying many ways to capture and share these sessions.  Look for livestreaming via google hangouts.  For this First session I caught a bunch of it thanks to josh, a student on the camera.  I have produced three "micro-PD" videos of twitter tips and folks to follow.  Let me know what you like and I will make more of it.

Short Names are Cool  

 Finding Teachers to Follow  

Teachers to Follow

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sky Pen Pilot Program

I am so pleased to announce that Livescribe and Kehillah Jewish High School are parentering in a Pilot program for the new Sky smart pen from Livescribe.
the sky wifi pen captures ideas and text and makes them sharable

This program is an amazing opportunity for the freshmen and their teachers to explore, discover, and share the possibilities of a fully digital workflow that begins with handwriting.  Here is a description of the program:

K12 Sky wifi smartpen Pilot Program
A pilot program at Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto, California will explore how high school students can use smartpens to engage in a connected and searchable education workflow and reflect on their own work to show student growth over the school year, as well as year-over-year. Students and educators will use the Sky wifi smartpen to actively support collaboration and communication.  Schoolwork and assignments, stored in Evernote notebooks, will be privately shared with students, parents and other teachers.  This makes it possible for teachers to respond and comment on work digitally.

“We’re developing a digital workflow model that makes best use of this emerging technology and empowers our students to be fully connected learners.  We are excited to finally enable our teachers to respond directly to student work in the cloud.”  Sam Patterson, Dean of Student Advising at Kehillah, sees not only to potential for greater digital connection, but also a greater personal one, “The more we are co-users of technology with students the more open they will be to learn and explore with us.”
The sky pen is an amazing tool in education. Learning with the sky pen is awesome.
A computer, calculator, pen: SKY is amazing

The Sky wifi smartpen pilot program will culminate in the spring 2013, at which time Livescribe will share highlights and results of the program.

The school will be working with Livescribe throughout the process to support the teachers and students.  The students will have a chance to learn about using the pen with Janet from Livescribe on Thursday 11/29, she will be training all of us for the day.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Texting and Blogging in Education

PATUE TEXTING and blogging in education
This iPad case has a BT keyboard,
should work w/ iPhone
Can those words and ideas even be in the same sentence?  I am sure that there are many logical arguments against using cell phones in class.
Here's the thing.  All my kids have their phone, everyday.

  • My students don't leave their cell phone at their mother's house during the week they are staying with their father.  
  • My students don't lose their phone for 3 weeks because someone moved it.  
I think you get the picture.  In my school, phone ownership is universal and there are a growing number of smart phones.
patue texting and blogging in education
Yep, the journal prompt was
Why would English class live-stream?
Our school cell phone policy is that no phones can be out during class.  My students use their phones to take pictures of the white board so I can post the journal prompt I wrote by hand on the class blog
One of my students does all of his writing on his iPhone.  I am going to see if I can get him to use a bluetooth keyboard.  His sentences are short and his paragraphs are small, but his ideas don't look underdeveloped on his iPhone.  I am hoping that the keyboard allows him to use the other half of the screen and maybe his writing will get twice as long.
I think I might be showing my hand already.

Let's hear from Teachers and Parents about this in conversation during PATUE CHAT on 11/20 5-6 PST.  Christine from Remind101 and Matt from Kidblog will be our co-moderators for the chat.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Campus Unconference, power of choice

When we shared the unconference with the families at our school, we did it after the fact and this was the blog post: 

Beit Midrash this week was a Campus Unconference. An unconference is a loosely organized meeting of people with something to say. The direction of the conversation is managed by the groups’ interests. To prepare for our unconference, the student government and faculty brainstormed areas of interest for our community. We narrowed these ideas to nine sessions and we were ready for the Campus Unconference.

Rabbi Greenberg introduced the Campus Unconference with a midrash. She explained that each person has the Hebrew letter alef on their face. The nose makes the center line, and each eye is one of the smaller lines. Alef is the first letter of God’s name. When we look upon one another, we are actually looking at what is holy. When we remember the spark of Godliness in each individual, we are able to approach our conversations and interactions with more trust, more honesty, and more compassion. 

Dr. Patterson explained the nine available sessions (see just below) and reminded our community that we are all equal participants – students and staff – in discussing these ideas of interest. Following the session breakout, we returned to the large group and shared some of our conversations. Students and staff were very present for these conversations. We talked about what we felt and thought. We also spoke about things we would like to see in the future, like a Beit Midrash on addiction. This is an ongoing conversation for us. We began at the Kinnus when we said Hinenei, here I am; and we continue today as we articulate our individual thoughts and the value of our community.

Kehillah Campus Unconference Sessions from this past Wednesday:

• Session 1: How we treat each other?
• Session 2: How do we express differing ideas kindly, respectfully, appropriately?
• Session 3: Social Media: how do we do it right?
• Session 4: Gossip
• Session 5: How and what is a role model?
• Session 6: What is our mission?
• Session 7: Who are we Jewishly and secularly?
• Session 8: Suicide/Depression
• Session 9: What does a strong and safe community look like?

If you want to know more, please be in touch with Rabbi Greenberg or Dr. Patterson.

Each week we have an hour long assembly, sometimes it is programming, sometimes a speakers, recently we watched the movie "I Am." (it was just about then Michelle and I really started collaborating.) 

The unconference format was one that Michelle and I had both experienced in different settings.  Figuring out a way to give 175 people choice and still have a good conversation was tricky.  We managed it in 2 steps.  The first step was with the faculty.
Last week in the faculty meeting we had the teachers generate topics and choose which discussion to participate.  We did this to give the teachers a sense of the structure and process of the unconference.  So from this process we had 5 topics.  The second set was to ask the student government to think critically and generate topics.  
This was a great option for our time constraints.  The student government generated topics overlapped with the faculty topics 100%, and most are reflected in the 9 topics we gave the group to choose from.
Choice   is huge.  Our community was suffering in part because everyone was taking it for granted and not engaging in the community.  The choice of session is a choice to engage.  This is so powerful and the kids have said just that.
In a debreif today the staff were also more engaged and thoughtful, we talked about next steps, but mainly we talked about the process.
We are going to have a second campus unconference in just a couple of weeks.
If you trust your kids, bring them this format and allow them to become engaged in their own lives.


Build your PLN: Host a Tweet-in

In my daily work I email things out from twitter, and I think of it more than I do it.  I wish my colleagues were on twitter.  But wishing is really nothing but not acting on a good idea, so I am answering the call to bring twitter to my colleagues.

Next Tuesday Nov 13 from 4-6 I will host the first Palo Alto Technology Using Educators (PATUE) meeting at Kehillah Jewish High School.
PATUE, Palo Alto Twitter Using Educators will host their first tweet-in, basics and beginnings on Nov 13, 2012 at KJHS in Palo Alto

The first hour (#PATUE class) will be an entry-level workshop on:
  1. How twitter has transformed my teaching
  2. How to set up a professional account, build a professional platform
  3. How to find people and interact
  4. Feeding and care of  PLN
This workshop will also give you a chance to meet and greet educators in the area working on integrating tech into their workflow.

In the Second Hour (#PATUE Chat)
We will be talking in person and online with digital curation experts about curation for the classroom.  Our in-the-room experts for this will be founders Tina and Barbara, and Scott one of the principals at Claco.comAmy Erin Borovoy, a video curator from will also be joining us via twitter chat.

Twitter is a great network, but my relationship with the tool changed when I really started to see and value the people on the other side of the tool.  I am inviting as many people as I can in person and they are nervous and they don't know anything about twitter.  That is great, we are going to learn this stuff together.

Please leave a comment to let me know you are coming, I will have a room, a screen wifi and a plan, bring your laptops, questions, and love of learning, because learning is living.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Gamification = Critical Thinking About Assessment. . .from Students

When I looked at bringing badges into my class I thought about how can badges be used to open a discussion of goals and assessment.  From the reading I have done it seems like at their best, badges improve student engagement by allowing them to act like the stakeholders they are.  I brought my students into the process.
During one class, after we had discussed the essay we are writing, I introduced the idea of badges and asked them to design badges for The Odyssey unit.
My students would like me to point out that this is just a SMALL sample of the badges created.  This sample was bounded my the media, I set up the paper gallery first.  The stickers you see on the posters are votes.
What do these badges reveal about my students and my classroom?  Let me know what you think.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Helping Children after a Natural Disaster

Had a great SatChat West Coast this morning. Here is a transcript, how well is your school prepared to shelter in place, how will you communicate?

Friday, November 2, 2012

It is Bigger Than Bullying

I am the dean of advising at a small Jewish high school in Palo Alto California.  When I say small, we have 155 students.  I love the fact that I know all of the students in my building, but having that level of access does not make a great community automatically   At times it seems like the students who know each other well are all too willing to treat each other poorly.

The issues we deal with at the school may seem mild compared to other schools, but they are felt deeply.  Students are mean to each other both face to face and online.  There are rumors, and people spread them.  Too often when a student could make a choice to improve a situation, they don't.

I recently asked the advisers to lead a discussion on isolation, and I shared the prompt with them.  In the hall afterwards several students referred to this prompt and discussion as a bullying talk.  I think bullying gets a great deal of press, but the issue is bigger than that.  The problem we have is that too often our students are not choosing to treat each other with compassion.

We are on a mission to help our students become compassionate and connected learners, and some of our students reject this goal out of hand.

In the discussion I lead about isolation 2 of the 8 students said "the world is tough and people just need a thicker skin."  There was a great deal of defensiveness in these comments, and I did my best to ignore the tone and focus on allowing each student to share their point of view.

In a related activity we showed the movie "I Am".  I had never seen this film before and I was unprepared for how deeply it touched me.  I had a transformational experience, and so did many of the kids.  Interestingly enough some of the students viciously went after the film and attacked it as pseudo-science.  As these students shared their experience of the film, I could hardly believe we had seen the same movie.  I was prepared to believe and they were not.

We are working on developing ways to get the kids talking to each other and to get the staff engaged in this conversation.  To this end, we are going to have a community unconference during our 1 hour assembly time next week.  We are going to work with student government and develop sessions before hand and ask students to go to the session that interests them the most.

Our goal is to create and support a conversation that is about more than bullying, it needs to be about what students need from the school and from each other to feel safe.  What do students need to be able to learn and to be their best selves.  How do students know that they matter?  While we haven't yet brought her voice into the conversation, I think Angela Maiers has a great deal to say to us about the teacher's role in creating an awesome community.

Working with teens to develop a more kind school culture is difficult. While so much of the public discussion seems to focus on bullying, the issues are bigger than that. I don't remember bullies in my childhood, I remember isolation. I know that many people feel isolated for a variety of reasons.
Sometime around 1985, Note mom holding 3 autograph books

My isolation was linked to the fact that I have an older brother with Down's Syndrome. I say linked to because I don't even know that many, or possibly any of the people at school knew this. I remember being called 'retard's brother' but I also remember that being mainly in the neighborhood.  For much of my schooling I felt less than and invisible.  I can now say that it gets better, but I feel we need to protect my students from the isolation I felt.  I do that by working everyday to connect with each of them in a way they feel as real.

How do you support a positive community on your school campus?

Blogging with my Students

Yesterday another administrator and I ran a staff meeting using a unconference design. This was a great process, and one I have to write about more. (and we are going to try to use the same design with the students next week)

The faculty developed 7 discussions focused on topics from "how to respond to students being rude to each other" to "what is the vision of the school."

in an unconference all the sessions are pitched and run by participants and decided in the moment.  In our staff meeting we used poster paper to design and share session ideas
our unconference session board
The focus of the session I began in was focused on the question of "How do we teach and address the rise of electronic media?"

This is a question I have already been working with this year. In the groups discussion we really tried to first define the schools obligation re:SM. I firmly believe that schools cannot be the Facebook cops and that the solution to this does not rely on reacting to what students do online.

We have to teach students how to interact with their online community by crating spaces where it is safe for students and teachers to work side by side.

This year I am using as this shared online workspace. The class space created by the site allows me to visit their work as they are creating it, as well as give students feedback that is either public or private.

I want to use this space as the foundation of my digital citizenship unit. I want students to see tht their work can connect with others. This has already begun, Kid Blog added a visitor map and the students can see where the site is being viewed from. We have at least one reading in Indonesia. This is a revalation to the students, someone across the world is learning about Storm Sandy because of their blog post.

I don't know what opprotunites will come out of this next, but I can say tat if we want to teach students to be better community members online, we need to get into an online space with them and guide them, and respond to how they inteact with the online community.

If you need an invitiation to blog with your kids or students, here it is: get blogging!